Diary - The Lords exceeding their brief

A busy day, starting with my usual jaunt out into the park. The first commitment was a meeting with Mark Francois to discuss the vexed and on-going issue of our veterans being chased through the courts many years after an alleged incident is claimed to have occurred. My friend and colleague Richard Benyon was there, too, whose Bill, to limit the time claims can be made to 10 years, I supported. There is deep frustration and even anger among many of my colleagues that the Government has not put a stop to all this nonsense once and for all. Of course, if there is hard evidence to suggest a case should be investigated, that's fine, but most of these cases are based on spurious allegations at best and, at worst, nothing but lies. Sadly the Minister's special adviser, who was meant to attend, failed to turn up, which did not encourage us much, it has to be said. I was due to go and see the Royal British Legion, but instead sat in on an Urgent Question on Gaza and the recent violence there. I have written a blog on this. Foreign Office Minister Alastair Burt took the session for the Government and did an outstanding job. Passions ran high, with claims and counter-claims echoing around the Chamber. There is no doubt that the shooting of civilians is unacceptable, and everyone agreed on that point. But many of my colleagues and the odd MP on the Opposition Benches reminded us that HAMAS, a terrorist organisation, was behind the violence and indeed encouraged it. The Israel/Palestine situation is truly a sad and tragic one and God knows whether it can ever be resolved peacefully. We must never stop trying. Then, back to the House from Lords came yet another attempt to revitalise Leveson 2, which had already been defeated in the Commons only recently. It seems to many of us the House of Lords is acting increasingly outside its remit and this does not bode well for its future. After an hour of debate the Government won the vote by 301 to 289, another close margin. Tom Watson, the Deputy Labour Labour, made a truly oily speech, this from a man who trashes people's reputations in the Chamber without a shred of evidence, using parliamentary privilege to cover his dishonourable behaviour. Then off to Westminster Hall to participate in Sir Henry Bellingham's well-timed debate, entitled Historic Allegations Against Veterans. He spoke well and many MPs, mostly Conservative, were there to support him. I intervened once as time was short, to read out part of an email that I'd received from a constituent, a former RSM, who was furious at the Government's lack of will to shut these investigations down. I could not stay for the whole debate as I had another meeting at No 9 Downing Street with the Chief Whip and colleagues. This was a private meeting. Then back to Committee Room 12 for the weekly gathering of the ERG, chaired so brilliantly by Jacob Rees-Mogg. Again, this was in private. By this time, we'd dropped to a one-line Whip, so afterwards I headed off to have supper with my brother.